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Habitat II Conference                      [ Back to Habitat II ]

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IV Global Plan of Action

D. Capacity-building and institutional development

7. Information and communications

190. Recent developments in information and communications technology, in conjunction with the liberalization of trade and the free flow of capital on a global scale, will change the roles and functions of cities and their decision-making and resource allocation processes. Societies that make the necessary investments in information technology and infrastructure and enable and empower their citizens to make effective use of such technology can expect to foster significant productivity gains in industry, trade and commerce. This improved information technology should be appropriately and optimally utilized to preserve and share cultural and moral values and enhance and improve education, training and public awareness of the social, economic and environmental issues affecting the quality of life, and to enable all interested parties and communities to exchange information on habitat practices, including those that uphold the rights of children, women and disadvantaged groups in the context of growing urbanization.


191. To improve the capacity to exploit these innovations to enhance their public good, Governments at all levels, including local authorities, should, as appropriate:

(a) Develop, upgrade and maintain information infrastructure and technology and encourage their use by all levels of government, public institutions, civil society organizations and community-based organizations, and consider communications as an integral part of human settlements policy;

(b) Promote the training of all key actors in the use, ways and means of information technology;

(c) Develop methods of sharing experience of local initiatives through electronic means, such as the Internet, networks and libraries, and of disseminating information on best practices, including those that utilize gender policies;

(d) Implement programmes that encourage the use, especially by children, youth and educational institutions, of public libraries and communication networks;

(e) Facilitate the learning process through the dissemination of both successful and unsuccessful experiences in human settlements taken from the governmental, public, private and community sectors;

(f) Encourage policies that make information technology and services available and more accessible to the general public, in particular through the wide use of the media;

(g) Give special attention to providing access to these new technologies for persons with disabilities;

(h) Encourage the development of programming for local and national media that acknowledges the diversity of race and culture in larger cities and promotes an understanding of differing points of view;

(i) Promote the free flow of, and access to, information in the areas of public policy, decision-making, resource allocation and social development that have an impact on women and children in particular;

(j) Assure market competition and broad public access in the provision of communication and information technology through a public role in maintaining access to communication and information technology.

192. The dissemination of experiences that contribute to facilitating access to adequate housing for all and the development of sustainable human settlements is helpful in the formulation of public policies on human settlements development. National Governments, in partnership with social actors, should:

(a) Promote the selection of urban management practices that stand out because of their positive impact on improving habitat, their use of participatory modes of organization and operation, their sustainable and lasting character and their tendency to become universal;

(b) Set up structures for the selection of best practices, with the participation of non-governmental organizations active in the urban development field;

(c) Promote the dissemination of best practices, selected locally, nationally, regionally and internationally, in an integrated manner.

193. To increase the knowledge and strengthen the information base, Governments and local authorities, together with research institutions, statistical offices and other interested parties, should:

(a) Promote research on economic, social and environmental aspects related to urbanization, human settlements and shelter development, focusing on research priorities identified on the basis of national requirements and the need for systematic monitoring and assessment of development, including environmental and social impacts of human settlements policies, programmes and projects, and paying attention to gender specificities;

(b) Strengthen existing human settlements related information systems by adopting efficient and sustainable methodologies and institutional arrangements, by systematically incorporating research results and by compiling, analysing and updating data for human settlements and shelter statistics and policy-sensitive indicators;

(c) Disseminate research indicators and other information widely, mainstream their results in policy-making at all levels and ensure a two-way flow of information between producers and users of information.

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